The bombing attack in Tehran which killed Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan last Wednesday, Jan. 11, generated an angry phone call from US President Barack Obama to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the next day, debkafile's Washington and intelligence sources report. Washington is increasingly concerned, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, that Israel is preparing to strike Iran's nuclear sites over US objections and has bolstered the defenses of US facilities in the region in case of a conflict.
Obama, Defense and Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been sending private messages to their Israel contacts warning them about the dire consequences of a strike, the paper reports. Top US armed forces chief Gen. Martin Dempsey will visit Israel next week.
debkafile's exclusive sources report that the differences between the US and Israel surfaced before the tough Obama-Netanyahu conversation last Thursday. Political, military and intelligence officials privately voiced resentment over the strong and unusual condemnation the White House and Secretary Clinton issued over the death of the Iranian nuclear scientist.
By denying "absolutely" any US involvement in the killing, the administration implicitly pointed the finger at Israel – an unusual act in relations between two friendly governments, especially when both face a common issue as sensitive as a nuclear-armed Iran.
Obama seemed to suspect that Israel staged the killing to torpedo yet another US secret effort to avoid a military confrontation with Iran through back channel contacts with Tehran, while the administration's extreme condemnation is seen as tying in with its all-out campaign to hold Israel back from a unilateral strike.
As part of this campaign, the Foreign Policy publication ran an "investigative report" Friday, Jan. 13, the point of which was to show that US and Israeli undercover agencies have been at odds for years after what was called a Mossad "false flag" operation. "Two US intelligence officers" are said to have revealed to the publication that in 2007 and 2008, Israeli Mossad officers posing as US intelligence agents with American passports recruited terrorist group Jundallah operatives for covert attacks in Iran.
This Pakistan-based Baluchi extremist group was described as utterly shunned by the CIA.
The weekly's sources said they were "stunned by the brazenness of Mossad's recruiting activities…under the nose of US intelligence officers, most notably in London."
They implied that Jundallah were sure they had been recruited by US intelligence. But so was Tehran. The Israeli "false flag" program was therefore accused of putting American agents at risk.
A "serving US intelligence officer" told the paper that President George W. Bush when informed of this episode "went absolutely ballistic."
debkafile adds: At the time of this alleged operation, Ehud Olmert was prime minister of Israel and Meir Dagan director of the Mossad. While the Bush administration is not known to have ever taken it up with Israel, Barack Obama decided to cool US intelligence cooperation with Israel on the Iranian issue when he took office in 2009.
Foreign Policy in its tendentious and selective report presents Mossad as the sole recruiter of Jundallah for sabotage and hit operations for defeating Iran's drive for a nuclear bomb. It omits the slightest mention of the fact that US intelligence started using Jundallah for such operations from early 2005 with ample US-dollar funding approved personally by President Bush.
Our Washington and intelligence sources note that the report appeared two days after the Iranian nuclear scientist was killed and the day after Obama took Netanyahu to task. It had two objective: to show that US is not responsible for all the covert operations of recent months against Iran's nuclear targets and, secondly, to demonstrate that Washington means to continue harassing and pressuring Israel by every means to hold it back from a military operation against Iran.